By Collins Nnabuife, Tribune Newspaper
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said that it did not spend N18.9 billion on bush clearing as reported, instead, it spent only N2.5 billion on bush clearing and land preparation of 3,200 hectares in 8 States.
The Ministry in a statement by its Director of Information, Dr. Joel Oruche, further stated that the House of Representatives Committee must have been quoted out of context by some media houses.
“The attention of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has been drawn to a publication in the media on the report by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Account which stated that the sum of N18.9bn was used for bush clearing during the COVID-19 Lockdown.
“The Ministry wishes to state that if the statement emanated from the House Public Account Committee, the Committee must have been quoted out of context.
“To put the record straight, however, the Ministry at no time received any audit query to warrant a summon by the Committee.
“It is also important to state that the Ministry did not spend N18.9bn on bush clearing as reported. The Ministry only carried out bush clearing and land preparation of 3,200 hectares in 8 States of Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Cross River, Kaduna, Kwara, Plateau, and Ogun States as allocated by respective state governments at a total cost of 2.5 billion Naira.
“In addition, other projects executed by the Ministry during the COVID–19 period that sums up to the total sum quoted included the following:
“Construction of rural roads in the six geo-political zones of the country, soil sampling and mapping, farmers registration as well as rehabilitation and the equipping of four National Soil Laboratories in Umudike, Ibadan, Kaduna, and FCT Abuja.
“All these projects were successfully executed and verified by relevant Government Agencies and were part of a stimulus package under the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Program of the Federal Government to generate employment and grow the economy to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020,” the statement stated.